MOUNT VERNON — Another problem looms for the city’s wastewater treatment plant — what to do with the resulting sludge.
The city has been able to spread it on approved farm fields as fertilizer, but new regulations issued this fall do not allow it to be spread on fields with drainage tiles, unless the tiles are plugged. And that, Utilities Director Mathias Orndorf said, is something farmers won’t want to do.
Orndorf and City Engineer Brian Ball are looking at ways to remove more water from the sludge, which could allow continued use as fertilizer. As is normal during winter, the sludge is stored in large storage tanks, but one tank is filled with 440,000 gallons of sludge and they are starting to fill the second.
There are several ways to reduce the water content, but Ball and Orndorf are looking at costs. Otherwise, the city will have to pay to take the sludge to a landfill, which can become expensive.
They are also still mulling what to do about phosphorous levels in the discharge from the plant.
Orndorf is in the process of filling out the city’s application to the EPA for its wastewater plant operating permit renewal, which has to be filed 180 days before the current permit expires. When the new permit is issued, Orndorf said, they will know what levels of phosphorous discharge they will need to meet.
The 11 concrete park benches that were overturned at Ariel-Foundation Park this week have not yet been set up again, Parks Superintendent Dave Carpenter reported. Carpenter said the ground needs to freeze or dry out enough to support the tractor that will be needed to reset the 800-pound benches.
Cameras showed two people, a male and a female, were involved in tipping over the benches.
A juvenile drove his car into Ariel-Foundation Park this week, damaging grassy areas before he got stuck in the mud. Police responded to the scene and called a tow truck, but it could not get close enough to free the vehicle from the mud, so the Street Department had to bring its backhoe to pull it out. Carpenter said they are calculating the cost of towing the car out and of repairing the ruts left in the field and will bill the juvenile.
As a result of these incidents, most entrances to Memorial and A-F parks have been closed. Cars can still park near the event center at A-F and at the tennis courts at Memorial, but access to the rest of the two parks will only be on foot until April 1.
The Inclusive Playground at Memorial Park is essentially complete. Carpenter said the surface installation has been completed and only the swings and some covers are left to install. Grading and seeding will wait until better weather.
He has not been notified about when the playground will be dedicated.
The communication system at the income tax office will be installed Tuesday. There will be two microphones for the office staff and two speakers on the outside of the new bullet-proof glass windows.
The Christmas decorations on Public Square have been removed except for the lights on the large pine tree. A contractor will remove those lights today.
Carpenter said the city took delivery of two new zero-turn mowers this week, one for the Parks Department and one for Public Buildings and Lands. The old mowers were traded in.
The restroom renovation at the Memorial Park tennis courts was finished this week. All of the exterior siding was replaced and a new drinking fountain will be installed in the spring.
In preparation for the demolition of “The Office” building on Ohio Street, the Street Department temporarily removed the pedestrian walk light at the corner with Gay Street. The light was removed so it will not be damaged with the building is demolished Sunday.
While the building is coming down, the left lane of Gay Street will be closed, as will the east-bound lane on Ohio Street.
Hinkle said he was informed some other lane closures may be needed when the debris is hauled away.
The Street Department completed alley tree and bush trimming west of Sandusky Street and is now moving east.
Notices were put on houses in the Brown-Ringold-Greer streets area that city crews will be in the area next week to trim trees and bushes that block sight-lines or rub against vehicles.